Kiln Theatre hosts community play starring 80 local residents
PUBLISHED: 11:18 23 September 2019 | UPDATED: 11:31 26 September 2019
The Seven Ages of Patience follows an 80 year old through turbulent times in the area and is performed by amateurs aged 11- to 77
Staging a community play with 80 amateur performers aged 11 to 77 would be many director's worst nightmares.
But Katie Posner has found the whole experience "beautiful".
Seven Ages of Patience was commissioned to mark the rebirth of the Kiln Theatre, which in 1980 moved into a former Foresters Hall on Kilburn High Raod.
It explores the Foresters Friendly Society, which acted as a savings trust and welfare hub before the foundation of the NHS.
Writer Chinonyerem Odima yokes the society to the story of Patience, who loses her family during WWII and finds love and friendship at the Foresters hall.
"The Kiln has been working in the community for a long time and we also did an open call out on websites and Twitter," says Brent-born Posner, who spent her early years in Kenton.
"Some have never set foot in a theatre before. The whole story is for and by the people of Brent and the cast reflects how extraordinary and beautifully diverse it is."
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Odimba has fashioned a "contemporary myth" from verbatim stories and archive material spanning eight decades and taking in historical events from Brent and beyond such as the Grunswick Strike and the murder of Stephen Lawrence.
The play starts with Patience's funeral, then unpicks her long life using flashbacks music and song.
"It celebrates the Foresters hall as an inclusive space where communities can join together and people feel welcomed," says Posner. "The history of the Foresters is beautifully embedded in the narrative threads. For Patience, the hall was the first place she found kindness after she lost her family in the war and it brings her back to life. She has suffered adversity and intolerance, but was taught by her mum to be kind, to carry on and find goodness. She wants to make something beautiful from tragedy."
The message, says Posner is "incredibly clear" that ordinary folk can have an extraordinary impact.
"Through poignant political moments we explore how we look after each other as a community. It's so relevant because of how divided we are as a society and will hopefully resonate with thinking about collective responsibility - who cares for us, and how we treat each other."
Posner was aware that her cast were giving their time for free and wanted to make it a fun experience.
"I have helped people who have never been in a play before with stagecraft, but the ethos is everyone can do it. It's empowering and amazing to see their progress. Like the lady who was terrified of her own voice who now has the loudest voice.
"These beautiful people are bringing themselves into a room there's a sense of truth and realness that's really special."
Seven Ages of Patience is at Kiln Theatre September 25-28. All tickets free with a community day on Saturday September 28 of workshops, free activities for children and a family screening in the cinema.
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